At long last Undercover Geisha is available both as an eBook and a paperback.
A big thank you to all my beta readers and those of you who have been kind enough to buy copies and read it and post reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I really do appreciate it.
I know from the comments I have received when I’ve shown photographs of the places I’ve used as locations for some of my earlier books how much many of you have enjoyed them. I thought you might like to see some of the photos my husband took on our Japan tour. There is a limit to how many I can include, and it was not an easy choice whittling it down.
Rather like the first Harry and Aunt Jessica mystery which was set in Morocco, our holiday to Japan was intended as a holiday and not a research trip. I always find that holidays inspire the writer in me. When we were on holiday tiger watching in a reserve in northern India what happened on the trip – a serious falling out between two friends which could have ended in disaster – meant I came back with a whole plot minus the murder. The trouble is there is never enough time to write up all the ideas. Although the pandemic and the lockdown has meant any travel plans to far-flung places for 2020, and perhaps beyond, have had to be shelved.
When we went to Japan back in 2015, I made a determined effort not to work out a plot while we were there though I admit I did come up with a book title – Undercover Geisha. Back then, I was busy writing Fiona Mason Mysteries and there was no chance of Winston driving a coach to Japan! However, a couple of years later, I began a new series and once I’d finished Murder in Morocco, I decided Japan might be a suitable location for Aunt Jessica and Harry.
Japan had been on the top of our holiday wish list for a long time and it was a wonderful experience. As always, our itinerary is the same one I use in the book, so our first stop was in my favourite city of Kyoto. I will admit our visit to the geisha house was not actually on the first evening, but the book is a murder mystery and I don’t like to keep my readers waiting for a body! This is the photo of the maiko who danced for us after we’ve eaten just as in the book. As you can see, she is also on the front cover of the book.
On our first full day we were taken to the Golden Temple that you see here which looks down over the city sent in magnificent gardens . I’ve chosen this picture because of the reflection.
Next on our agenda was the magnificent Nijo Castle with its singing nightingale floors – one of the highlights of the whole holiday as far as I was concerned. This photo is of the entrance gate and you can get an idea of just how colourful and elaborate the decoration can be. The grounds were truly magnificent. Spring had arrived a little early that year, but the cherry blossom was breath-taking.
I knew little about the ancient capital of Nara before we went but it is very much as I describe it. These deer really do bow their heads three times before accepting a biscuit. I wish I had room to show you photos of the giant statues guarding the gate to the Buddhist temple and a picture of the giant golden Buddha himself. Though, to be honest, he is so big, it’s impossible to stand far enough back in that confined space to get a decent view of it.
Our next hotel was in Hiroshima from where we went to Itsukushima Shrine. This photo of a wedding party gave me the idea for Aunt Jessica to spot White Tiger, though I will confess that none of these spectacular kimonos had a white tiger embroidered on the back.
Those of you who have read the book will remember Harry was very taken with another married couple in the grounds above the shrine. Harry wasn’t the only one who took a great many pictures!
I wasn’t sure I really wanted to go to the Hiroshima Peace Park. Like one of Aunt Jessica’s fellow travellers, I can’t say I enjoyed the experience but I’m glad I went.
No trip to Japan would be complete without a visit to a tea ceremony. Though, just like Harry, I developed a taste for green tea flavoured sweetmeats, Japanese green tea is definitely not for me.
One thing I did enjoy was the hot coffee from the vending machines.
We had a fair amount of rain throughout our holiday, including in Takayama on the day of the parade. We followed the procession as the great golden shrine was carried through the town and saw the lion dancers.
I was shooed out of the way just like Harry, but it was too wet for the decorated festival floats. We did see several individual floats the next day but seeing all of them in procession must be an experience.
The Toyota factory proved to be much more of a fun trip than I ever expected, and the famous robot turned out to be quite proficient at least to my untrained ear.
There are so many photos I would love to show you but my last one is our hotel room overlooking Mt Fuji. I’ve never stayed in a hotel suite with so many rooms!
Most of us will be confined to staycations and armchair holidays for the foreseeable future but I hope you enjoy a vicarious journey through a wonderful county as you read Undercover Geisha.